SEO, a loaded term in marketing. Dodged by some, feared by many. And there’s a very good reason for this. SEO is one of the marketing skills that needs some time to figure out. And once you figured it out, Google probably already made some extra changes to their algorithm. And yes, it’s without any doubt something to keep track of. If you want to have organic traffic to your website, that is. And who does not want that? Anyway, underneath you will find a quick overview on the main rules of SEO for dummies, some important SEO elements you need to treat carefully and some SEO quick wins. We will not go in full detail, but of course you can always Google a specific term and those with the best SEO rankings are supposedly the best answer to your question. Because that’s how it works.
Main SEO rule
Of course you have heard about keywords. These are the words people are entering in search engines to find (websites similar to) your website. There are numerous tools available to find keywords most relevant to your business. One of them is Google Keyword Planner where you get an oversight of their search volume, competition and average CPC (cost per click.)
Back in the days copywriters needed to use these words plenty of times on their website to make sure to be the first hit when these keywords were searched. Now, things are more complicated. Websites get punished when they overuse a word (this occurrence is called keyword stuffing). So the main rule comes down to this: when using keywords, use them wisely and don’t overdo it. You should come up with up to five keywords or keywords phrases for each page on your website and optimize your content with those.
One extra hint is not to compete for crowded keywords. Sometimes, using the most relevant keyword is not the way to go. Especially not when 75,000+ people are also using this specific keyword. If this is the case, you better look for a more unique keyword with a similar meaning. The less people using the chosen keyword, the easier it is to reach a higher ranking.
Important SEO elements
Title tag and meta description
Some elements on your webpage are more important for your SEO rankings than others. And some of them are not always there to be seen right away. The first one is the title tag. You can find this in your HTML code in between the following: <title> … </title>. This tag is one of the most important elements of each page, because it tells Google, and your readers, what the page is about. Obviously, you should make sure that the title of the page contains at least one of your primary keywords.
The second one is the meta description of your page. This is a short description of what people can find on your page. This a specific element that can only occur in the back-end of the website. This text will only be visible when using a search engine. It will then be the short description that appears under the title of the page in search results. In HTML it is recognized by the following: <meta name=”description” content=”this is the meta description text that will show in search results”> .
The meta description is no longer part of Google’s algorithm, but obviously it is indirectly linked with SEO. People will decide whether to visit your website based on the meta description and, the number of times your site is visited is an important metric for SEO ranking. So there you go.
The third element might be one with the most influence on your SEO ranking. I am talking about link building. External links are hyperlinks that point to any other domain than the one the link exists on. This works in two ways, when another site refers to yours, this is also considered an external link. Getting external links is one of the hardest ways to prove quality for your website. And that’s why it’s also one of the most important factors for a high ranking. And, of course, to make matters more complicated, Google also takes into account other factors of the linking domain like the quality, the trustworthiness, popularity, relevancy of the content between the two pages, the text in the link and so on. So links from a bad site can also have a reversed effect on SEO.
Another one are internal links. They interconnect your content and this way, Google gets an idea of the structure of your website. Using links, it can tell what content is related and which content has the most value. Internal links also help visitors navigate your site easier, enhancing the user experience.
In addition to helping Google find out the structure of your website, you can also install an XML sitemap. This is a blueprint of your website. This sitemap helps bots to crawl your website. It shows internal links and this way, Google can figure out how your website is structured, when it was last edited and so on. Such a sitemap is easy to make with an XML sitemap generator. Google can easily find sitemaps, however, you can also submit the map to Google via Search Console. When doing this, Google will show you errors, pages indexed and so on.
Every good text needs titles and subtitles. Header tags make this possible by setting out a hierarchy in the titles on a page. They make reading your website more enjoyable. And because Google highly values the user experience, these also have an influence on SEO. Also, when they contain the chosen keywords, impact will be positive. But, the main SEO rule also applies here: don’t overdo it. Write for readers and not for Google. Because good user experience translates to better SEO.
SEO quick wins
In order to stay relevant, content should be current and updated from time to time.
Qualitative, current content is very important for your marketing and your SEO. On one side, relevant and good content shows real expertise for your brand and it will attract traffic to your website. On the other hand, content does wonders for your SEO ranking. Thanks to a regular update of content, your site remains up-to-date and Google will perceive your site likewise.
Watch out! Do not duplicate content. When duplicating content from other webpages, Google will trace this and it will have a bad effect on your SEO ranking. Search engines always want to offer the best response to your search, so when they find multiple websites with a ‘best match’ they don’t know what to do and it complicates things for them. Result; they will spread link equity among duplicates. So eventually each and every duplicate will decrease in visibility. Even more, when other sites want to refer to this piece of content, they will also need to choose between the sources with the same content and link equity will be scattered.
Page load time
Especially for mobile traffic, this one is very significant! A few hints:
- Images: decrease the size of your images. They take a lot of time to load. By compressing your images, the files becomes lighter, less deep in colour and your load time will decrease. You should also work with jpeg images.
- Browser requests: when people click your website, their web browser sends a request to your web server. The server is the host of your webpage which they are trying to visit. A web browser needs to send a separate request for every single file on your website. The more files, the longer it takes to load. And the bigger these files, also the longer the load time. You can use the Google Chrome Developer Tool to analyse your website and become aware of what files make the loading of your website more difficult.
One more tip: work with long-tail keywords.
Those are keywords used by customers who already have more knowledge about the product/service you are providing. These keywords are more specific and niche and are strongly linked to what you offer. Those keywords are more promising because of their relevancy for people who do search them. These people are very valuable prospects, giving that their search is extremely specific. Moreover, you won’t be competing with thousands of others in the keyword bidding.
But most of all; remember you’re not making a website for the Google crawlers. You’re writing for real people, real visitors looking for your website to gain information, buy a product, etc. Focus on them and the Google page ranks will follow.
Need some help getting your SEO just right?
Written by Peggy Storme – Junior Marketing Consultant